Date: January, 2002
page: 38 title: Tool - October 4, 2001 - Pepsi Arena, Albany, New York author: Pat Blashill It took only about ten minutes for this concert to reach peak intensity. Soon after Tool launched the esoteric roar of “Stinkfist,” just as the puppet dude on the video screens above the stage blurred into a hyperspeed conniption, singer Maynard James Keenan began to stop and scream like an unjolly giant, and the crowd screamed right back. When the neck-snapping guitars suddenly fell away, revealing the rattle of drummer Danny Carey’s distorted tabla, the audience screamed even louder. Tool fans do love their tabla breaks. Despite Tool’s reputation for theatricality, the videos were only the tip-off that this was, indeed, an arena rock show. Like Radiohead and precious few other massive bands, Tool’s idea of live pyrotechnics consists almost solely of standing there and playin’ their songs real good. But unlike Radiohead, Tool aren’t preoccupied with transcendence, preferring to stay down on this dirty plane. Songs like the vaguely Asian “Forty-Six & 2” and the convoluted “Schism” grind and swell for ages, and when the release finally comes, it’s like a Hitchcock climax: bloody and inescapable. Epic dirges like “The Patient” and “Reflection” are dense and almost form free. The thrill of a Tool show is that even the most die-hard fan in the room doesn’t really know what the band is gonna do next. From the cheap seats in Albany, Tool themselves seemed as inscrutable as their metallic jams. Keenan stuck to the shadows for the entire show, making it difficult to determine if he was, as is often said, “charismatic” and “in drag,” but his lack of presence didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the fans, who were clearly won over by the music’s breadth and force. The only decisive physical gesture Tool engaged in all night was a group hug, stage center, just after playing their last song, “Lateralus.” Putting this intimate band ritual on display made a certain amount of sense within the context of the band’s music – just as the video screens displayed images of spinal columns and gooey digestive organs, Tool long to reveal everything that’s normally hidden from sight, from the grotesque to the sentimental. It’s a tactic they even turn on their own fans. The show’s most stunning moment came at the end of “Reflection,” when guitarist Adam Jones drew a few funereal chords into a beautiful two-minute elegy and the moshing masses immediately fell silent. Tool are a metal band unlike any other because they dare to ask their audience to stop breaking shit, take a breath, and look inside themselves.
Posted to t.d.n: 04/14/02 22:15:37